Situational Awareness involves paying attention to what is happening around you.

What you do with that information is up to you and your perception of the associated real-time risks. Most often as a result (of your situational awareness) – no action on your part is required. Usually (for most of us) ‘life’ moves forward in our modern world without much of a worry of very bad things happening to us. The problem though is that we get caught up in our own normalcy bias, which sets us up for disaster.

Here’s something that you can do (a drill) to hone your situational awareness skills:

This drill will make you much more aware of the vulnerabilities that most people have while out in public, and how they become easy prey.


Take some time to specifically do the following…

Drive to a Walmart parking lot (or any busy parking lot like this). Park away from the front entrance so that you can observe people’s coming and goings.

Sit in your car and watch how unbelievably unobservant and ignorant (of their surroundings) that many people are as they exit their vehicle and make their way to the entrance — the same with those who are returning to their car.

How many of them walk down the center of the parking lot lanes?

How many of them walk mostly aimlessly as they veer this way and that way, or unpredictably lurch a different direction, or even stop short completely — while distracted?

How many are talking on their phones while their subconscious minds pull them toward the front entrance – without consciously thinking about where their feet are taking them and what’s happening around them?

Face down in their smart phones while texting and walking (not seeing beyond a few feet in front of them).

Completely blind to the fact that they’re holding up a line of cars behind them while they wander down the middle of the lane or park their shopping carriage blocking half the roadway.

How many of them will step off the front curb right into parking-lot traffic without looking or giving it a second thought?

Count the number of people who mostly look down while they’re walking – even if they’re not using a phone or anything – while apparently deep in blissful la-la land.

Watch those who are in groups as they talk together while walking, and see how they’re in their own little cocoon as they make their way to the front entrance or back to their car without really observing their surroundings.

Count how many ‘near misses’ happen as people back their cars out of their parking spaces without seeing some other wandering ‘idiot’ coming down the lane.

Observe how many people actually keep their head up and LOOK AROUND while they are walking (very few I’m sure).

Check how many of them actually turn their head and look back behind them.


Now do this…

Look around the parking lot at the cars, and see if there are any others who are just sitting in their vehicles. They could be simply waiting for their partner to return from the store. Or maybe not?

Watch others, and watch who they are watching.

By observing others, you will quickly identify those who are actually situationally aware, and you will also instinctively identify those who are ‘perhaps’ a risk. Trust what your gut tells you about a situation. People’s actions in a given environment will either seem to be ‘normal’ or ‘abnormal’. Abnormal behavior may be due to something completely non-sinister, but you never know. This is when you need to get your guard up and minimize your exposure to the developing situation.


The exercise of watching others (in all situations) will reveal to you how inept that most people are with regards to their own situational awareness. It will be eye opening. It should inspire you to be more observant of your own situation and risk assessments while ‘out and about’.

While looking in your area, there will certainly be those who you’ll notice to have situational awareness. I’m curious though to know your estimation of percentages — What percentage of people out in public do you estimate to be mostly not aware of their surroundings versus those who appear to be mostly aware?

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